From <i>Pandilla</i> to <i>Mara</i>

Robert Brenneman

in Homies and Hermanos

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199753840
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918836 | DOI:
From Pandilla to Mara

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Where did the transnational gangs come from and how violent are they? This chapter begins with the story of a Salvadoran ex-member of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) in order to better understand how this gang and others emerged in the streets of East Los Angeles and evolved to become loosely-networked “franchises” with thousands of members in several countries. In the 1990s the Los Angeles Police Department deported tens thousands of Central American youth, among whom were many members of the MS-13 and the M-18 who colonized the local street gangs already existing in Central America. The transnational gangs are compared to a franchise in order to emphasize their fluidity and their highly local dynamics along with their adoption of internationally recognized symbols, vocabulary, and protocols. The chapter also examines the connection between gang membership and homicide rates in the “Northern Triangle” of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

Keywords: Pandilla; Mara; Salvatrucha; MS-13; Franchise; Northern Triangle; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; gangs

Chapter.  9817 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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